Overused words of the decade: 'open' and 'enterprise'

"Open" is what we would like every piece of code to aspire to, and "enterprise" means a harmonious collection of industrious people and purring machines. They are the magical marketing words, evoking images of all that is good and wholesome.

"Open" is what we would like every piece of code to aspire to, and "enterprise" means a harmonious collection of industrious people and purring machines. They are the magical marketing words, evoking images of all that is good and wholesome. But perhaps they are getting overused.

Everything that's anything in information technology these days is branded as "open." Of course, when comes to implementation and pulling systems, services or software together, some of that "openness" tends to fall by the wayside.

In his latest post, Seth Godin drew up a list (inspired by Michal Migurski) of all the "open" things associated with IT, from open source to open infrastructure to open architecture. I want to also add open systems to his list, which used to mean Unix, and now pertains to any distributed system.

Of course, here in the service oriented architecture world, open standards is the word everybody loves.

(Come to think of it, isn't "open standards" a redundancy, like a "free gift" or "unexpected surprise"? Or, here's a couple I've spotted from time to time -- "BPEL language" and "RDBMS system.")

Godin observes that open standards mean "relying on rules that are widely used, consensus based, published and maintained by recognized industry standards organizations. It means that you're not in charge, the standards guys are."  Hmm.

Then there's that other overused word, "enterprise." Miko Matsumura says its time to take the word back, and here's why:

"In the context of software, the word 'Enterprise' has now officially come to mean software that sucks. Enterprise Software hit the nadir of suckitude at the launch of 'Enjoy SAP' This is like the American Dental Association launching 'Enjoy Root Canal.' SAP is certainly an easy target, but lets face it, 'Enterprise Software' is generally a poorly integrated mess. Working with Enterprise Software feels a bit like walking through an industrial landfill or an airport hangar. Nothing is built to human scale."

Miko proposes changing the term to "The Human Enterprise." I like the concept, but there may just be a tad bit of redundancy in there as well, unless we want to separate it out from the completely automated enterprise -- and there may even be a few of them around.

Hey, how about "Open Enterprise"?